A woman who's devoted to her cat is often seen as eccentric, and nearly always as a tired old stereotype. But scientists studying the bond between cats and their owners claim there's more to the relationship between women and their felines than meets the eye.
Writing in the journal Behavioural Processes, the researchers claim cats bond with humans - and especially women - as social partners. In fact, whereas many people might argue a cat only shows affection to its owner in order to be well fed, the researchers say cat-human relationships are incredibly similar to human relationships in terms of the dynamics that underlie them.
If you're a cat owner, you'll probably know what they mean. And let's face it, we all know someone whose cat is more like their baby than their pet.
The researchers from the University of Vienna, analysed how 41 cats and their owners related to each other over a lengthy period of time. And what they concluded was that the cats and their owners almost controlled the way each other behaved.
The strongest bonds were seen between extroverted women with young, energetic cats, who were seen to provide affection, mutual attraction, compatibility and social support to their owners.
The study also concluded that women interact with their cats (male or female) more than men do - though it's fair to say that many men have strong relationships with their kitties too.
So if a dog is man's best friend, perhaps cats are women's natural companions? If you have a cat, what do you think?